Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Local News

Sen. Schumer Has a Simple Fix to Reduce Ghost Guns in Onondaga County

Scott Willis

The number of so-called “ghost guns” being used to commit crimes has been on the rise in Onondaga County, and Senator Chuck Schumer says there’s an easy way to stop them.  He stopped at the district attorney’s office Monday, where more than a dozen seized, unmarked, unregistered weapons were displayed on the table. 

All of them had been cobbled together pieces at a time, all of them illegal in New York State, and all of them used in crimes.  Schumer says he’s asking the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to simply change some language.

Credit Scott Willis / WAER News
Usage of ghost guns to commit crimes has been on the rise.

"Amend the definition of a firearm to include the parts. If you buy just the frame or just the barrel, and then go to another store and buy the other parts, you don't have to register at all." 

Onondaga County DA Bill Fitzpatrick says that it is too easy for people to go online and order parts of a ghost gun, which can post serious threats to society. 

"You get online, you send in a certain amount of money, and you got 80% of a gun. And in some cases, all you have to do is drill a couple of holes, now you've got an automatic operable weapon.  It's got to stop." 

Whether its stores or the internet, criminals are avoiding background checks.  And, the weapons have no serial numbers, making them nearly impossible to trace by law enforcement.  The number of ghost guns has increased sharply in Onondaga County, to a combined 30 in two years, up from only one before 2018.  Fitzpatrick mentions one example:

"August 5th, nine shots fired, Fitch Street. August 22nd, 11 shots fired, Sabine Street. August 24th, 12 shots fired, Merriman Ave; September 9th, 14 shots fired, 200 Putnam Street. September 15th, 17 shots fired, Merriman Ave.  That's one gun."

Fitzpatrick attributes the discovery of so many ghost guns in the county to exceptional work by law enforcement.  Schumer hopes the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms will reclassify parts of guns as actual weapons by spring. 

Credit Scott Willis / WAER News
Senator Chuck Schumer speaks about the dangers of ghost guns.